WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup surveys in 151 countries and areas reinforce the United Nations' recent assertion that the world is facing a water crisis of not only quantity, but also quality. More than one-quarter of the world's adults -- or roughly 1.3 billion people -- are dissatisfied with the quality of water in their communities, ranging from a high of 78% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to less than 1% in Singapore.
In 25 countries surveyed between 2006 and 2009, at least half of adults said they are dissatisfied with water quality in their communities. The countries where the most people are dissatisfied with local water quality are disproportionately in Africa. Sixteen of these 25 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme reports many countries are not on track to meet Millennium Development Goals for sustainable access to clean drinking water.
Dissatisfaction with water quality is also 50% or higher in five countries in the Middle East. In Iraq, 71% are dissatisfied, which is the highest percentage in the region. With two exceptions, the United Arab Emirates (26%) and Qatar (15%), dissatisfaction in all Middle Eastern countries surveyed was higher than the regional median for Asia (30%).
Even before the destructive earthquake in 2010, the majority of Haitians (55%) said they were dissatisfied with their water quality, making them the unhappiest in the Americas. At the other end of the spectrum, adults in Uruguay were the least unhappy, with 5% dissatisfied. In comparison, 13% of Americans and 11% of Canadians said they are dissatisfied with the quality of water in the cities or areas where they live.
People are relatively satisfied with their local water quality across most of Europe, where median dissatisfaction is the lowest in the world at 20%. Only in Russia (54%) and Ukraine (52%) did more than half of adults say they are dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction is lower than 10% in 10 European countries, including Germany (5%) and the United Kingdom (7%).
See all country-level results on page 2.
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Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in most countries, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, in 151 countries and areas. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranged from a low of ±2.1 percentage points in China to a high of ±5.7 percentage points in Slovenia. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.